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GM and Autodesk Advancing Design and Manufacturing


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General Motors is working with Autodesk on utilizing advanced design software and 3D printing capabilities to develop parts that are not only lighter than those otherwise developed, but which combine what would otherwise be separate parts, thereby reducing manufacturing complexity.

It’s called “generative design.” Essentially, through the use of advanced AI-based algorithms and cloud computing horsepower they are able to run through hundreds of configurations on the way to finding the best design.

According to Ken Kelzer, GM vice president, Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems, “When we pair the design technology with manufacturing advancements such as 3D printing, our approach to vehicle development is completely transformed and is fundamentally different to co-crate with the computer in ways we simply couldn’t have managed before.”

General Motors is pioneering new, advanced generative software design technology from Bay-area software company Autodesk to introduce the next generation of vehicle lightweighting. The disruptive technology is key to developing efficient and lighter alternative propulsion and zero emission vehicles. . It uses cloud computing and AI-based algorithms to rapidly explore multiple part designs, generating hundreds of high-performance, often organic-looking geometric design options based on goals and parameters set by the user, such as weight, strength, material choice, fabrication method and more. The technology provides GM significantly more vehicle mass reduction and parts consolidation opportunities that cannot be achieved through traditional design optimization methods. GM and Autodesk engineers have applied this new technology to produce a proof-of-concept part — a seat bracket — that is 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger than the original part. It also consolidates eight different components into one 3-D-printed part.

To get to this proof-of-concept 3D-printed seat bracket, GM engineers, working with Autodesk generative design software, quickly assessed more than 150 different approaches to the design before coming up with this.

As an example, they developed a 3D printed seat bracket that combines what would otherwise be eight different components into a single structure, a structure that is 40 percent lighter and 20 percent stronger than one made with conventional processes.

Explains Scott Reese, Autodesk senior vice president for Manufacturing and Construction Products, “Generative technologies fundamentally change how engineering work is done because the manufacturing process is built into design options from the start. GM engineers will be able to explore hundreds of ready-to-be-manufactured, high-performance design options faster than they were able to validate a single design the old way.”

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